Music: The Reluctant Heldentenor

To fill the gigantic mold of a Wagnerian hero, a tenor should 1) have a voice big enough and resonant enough to soar over the timpani-tempered Wagnerian orchestra, 2) be robust enough to support swooning Wagnerian sopranos, and 3) preferably be named Lauritz Melchior. At the Metropolitan Opera last week, a topnotch revival of Wagner's Die Walkuere (conducted by Karl Boehm) offered the audience a dramatic tenor who ideally fulfilled the first two requirements and made the third one seem unimportant. The tenor: 33-year-old, Canadian-born Jon Vickers.

Tenor Vickers made an inauspicious Met...

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